‘Don’t Worry Darling’ is no reason to lose sleep

In case you need another depiction of how glitzy 1950s American culture was just a superficial veneer on a rotten core of violence and misogyny, there’s now a movie for you in the cinemas: “Don’t Worry Darling”. It’s directed by Olivia Wilde who, encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive reviews for “Booksmart,” decided to team up with screenwriter Katie Silberman on another movie with a big thesis but no laughs.

Florence Pugh’s heroine is a housewife named Alice… what an interesting choice name… will she perhaps go through some sort of mirror? The film works best when Pugh does and doesn’t wear fabulous period clothing. After breaking out with “Midsommar” and “Little Women,” Pugh challenges himself by supporting bad movies like “Black Widow” and this one.

Alice’s happy husband is a boy named Jack (Harry Styles), who works as a top-secret engineer for Project Victory. They are so ardent in their passion that they disrupt a dinner of steak and roast potatoes with impromptu antics atop a perfectly laid table. Wilde is famous for dropping Shia LeBeouf from the role of Jack during filming, and while it boosted morale on set, LeBeouf’s move to Styles is a serious downgrade in acting roles. The latter is passable playing playboy life but, when forced to show emotional range, he crumbles.

Alice and Jack live at the bottom of a cul-de-sac in a Palm Springs-style desert fantasy provided by the company. All the men manage to finish their coffee, bacon, eggs and toast at the same time and drive their pastel cars down the road together. They work on creating “progressive materials” at the Victory Project, which causes underground explosions that rattle martini glasses on their picture-perfect mid-century buffets. Alice’s best friend, Bunny (Olivia Wilde), is content to stay home “where it’s safe” every day. All the girls walk around with martini glasses judging who has the most luxurious ranch and never discuss their past or their life outside of that bubble. Why does Alice believe in Jack? They have an uneventful relationship.

Architect and leader of the Victory Project, Frank (Chris Pine), speaks loudly about the transformative work he does without ever dropping specific details. (Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master,” Where Have You Been?) Frank’s partner, Shelley (Gemma Chan), speaks in a very normal way to her friends, reminding them, “There’s beauty in Control”.

The only voice of dissent belongs to Margaret (KiKi Layne), who wandered the desert outside of town and saw disturbing visions. One day, Alice follows in her dusty footsteps, thinking she saw a plane crash (good luck figuring out what happened to that plane), and is about to discover the source of that disturbing noise.

Alice suffers from the awful feeling when you turn the radio dial in the middle of nowhere, all that plays is a Christian rock station. His radio picks up Frank’s lame deejaying, in which pop numbers are interspersed with vague platitudes about changing the world. What kind of Kool Aid do they put in their shakers? Men in red overalls hide behind all the plantations, ready to pounce on those who stray from the reserve. When Alice begins to interrogate the machine, the men plead, “Please don’t get hysterical.” His only consolation is the Sylvia Plath book on his bedside table.

Wild telegraphs the film’s significant plot twist with repetitive and rather lackluster visuals. Alice’s two-second flashbacks to another life are mostly an annoyance because life in “Don’t Worry Darling” is mostly a beautiful drag.